Salmon fishing off the unpredictable Alaskan coast, a violent storm and a 16 year old distracted by grief and resentment. These are the precursors to an epic survival story which is highly readable but not in the league of 'Hatchet' and 'The Cay'. Attempting to retrieve his dog,Tucker, Seth is swept overboard and miraculously manages to swim to one of the hundreds of islands dotted along the coast. His journey back home begins, leapfrogging from island to island encountering and overcoming every obstacle a good survival story should offer. Smelcer's Aleutian background and local knowledge add interesting detail but the pace is slow and events repetitive and a lot of time is spent on introspection. References to ancestors are understandable but didactic ''the power of myths does not require steadfast belief in the story: that is the realm of religion' (p.119). For a reading age 9-12 and an audience of young boys particularly, this is weighty and offputting.
Based on true events it is worth recommending to fans of survival and adventure stories. John Smelcer is a prolific author as well.
Andersen Press ISBN 9781849391962 2010
Flickr image by slabshaft